Hedgehog photo courtesy of National Biodiversity Data Centre
Researchers from NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are once again calling on citizen scientists to help to record data and movements of the humble hedgehog.
This year, the researchers have planned a more involved hedgehog survey with volunteers invited to conduct assessments in their local area between May and September.
The methodology follows that developed by the Mammal Society of the UK, which uses footprint tunnels to determine if hedgehogs are present in various habitats. Researchers are asking volunteers to place ten footprint tunnels, a small tunnel made from corrugated plastic containing two sheets of paper and ink in the centre to capture the footprints of the hedgehogs, within a 1 kilometre square area for five nights and check them each morning for signs of hedgehogs.
Above: A footprint tunnel
The Irish Hedgehog Survey was launched in the summer of 2020 with members of the public asked to submit records of hedgehog sightings online. The response to the survey saw over 2,000 hedgehog sightings reported for the year from all over Ireland, with many reporting hedgehogs regularly visiting their gardens through the summer.
Researchers also received many requests for information on how to attract hedgehogs into the garden or help a sick or injured animal so they have produced an informative leaflet called ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ with tips for making your garden more hedgehog friendly. The leaflet is available to view, download and print from the project website https://www. irishhedgehogsurvey.com/ helping-hedgehogs.
The Irish Hedgehog Survey forms part of the research of PhD candidate Elaine O’Riordan from Zoology, School of Natural Science, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, who said: “The aim of the survey is to provide information on the types of habitats where hedgehogs occur, and where they don’t. We are hopeful that a lot of volunteers will get involved and survey different types of habitats in urban and rural areas. We are delighted with the response to the Hedgehog Survey so far. People seem very interested in hedgehogs and care about them very much.”
“We are very pleased to have teamed up with project partners from the county councils of Galway, Kilkenny, Roscommon, Mayo, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City as well as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ulster Wildlife Trust and Cork Nature Network. With their support we hope to train and mobilise teams of volunteers in these areas.”
This survey would be suitable for interested individuals, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups. Participants are welcome from all over Ireland.
Volunteering workshops will be available online in early summer 2021 with more information on the survey, instructions, and equipment needed to carry out the project. There will also be live training events facilitated with the Hedgehog Survey project partners.
Full details of dates and locations of the volunteer workshops will be available on the project website https://www. irishhedgehogsurvey.com/.
For further information on the project, training, or survey news, please email email@example.com.
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